Recent News from Engadget

Nintendo is releasing a six-button Genesis controller for Switch, but only in Japan

Next month, Nintendo will give Switch Online subscribers the chance to purchase Sega Genesis games as part of a DLC pack with N64 titles. And to make the experience as authentic as possible while playing them, the gaming giant is also selling wireless N64 and Genesis controllers exclusively to Switch Online subscribers. The gaming giant showed off a three-button Genesis controller at its most recent Direct stream in the west. Based on a tweet by Nintendo Japan, though, it will release a six-button version in its home country instead. 

Nintendo has confirmed to Polygon that the six-button Genesis controller will be exclusively available in Japan. A Nintendo of America rep told the publication that “different regions make different decisions based on a variety of factors” and that the three-button model was the more widely used and more well-known version in the US and Canada. As the publication notes, the three-button model came first, and the one with six buttons was only released when fighting games boomed in popularity. Playing titles like Street Fighter was easier with more buttons to mash. Take note that the Sega Genesis Mini also launched with a three-button controller outside Japan in 2019, whereas the Japanese version came with a six-button model.

Even if you find a way to import the Japan-only controller, it may be better to wait until other gamers have confirmed that it works with consoles in your region. Nintendo doesn’t have a release date for the three-button model yet, but it will set you back $50 when it becomes available.

NASA’s AR graphic novel is meant to recruit a new wave of astronauts

NASA clearly needs more astronauts if programs like Artemis are to be successful, and it thinks it has a clever sales pitch: a tech-savvy comic. The space agency has released an augmented reality graphic novel, First Woman, that tells the tale of the fictional Callie Rodriguez as she becomes (what else?) the first woman to land on the Moon. You can read the 40-page first issue as-is, but NASA really wants you to download a companion mobile app (for Android and iOS) or scan codes to experience environments and objects in a more engaging way.

Point your phone at special “XR” codes (through the app) or QR codes (if you prefer the web) and you can tour the Orion spacecraft, the Moon and other objects. You can also play games, watch videos and earn badges.

You can also listen to an audio version. NASA is also promising a Spanish-language version of the novel sometime in the future. The administration isn’t shy about treating First Woman as a recruiting drive, but it may well be worth a download if you want to foster your kids’ interests in space and science — and possibly learn a thing or two about NASA’s long-term plans.

Netflix’s ‘The Witcher’ plans include season 3 and a kids’ series

No, Netflix isn’t done extracting every last drop of value from The Witcher. The streaming giant used its TUDUM event to tease a further expansion of its adapted fantasy series. There will be a third season of The Witcher, to no one’s surprise, but Netflix also revealed plans for a second anime movie and, believe it or not, a “kids and family” series — a bit odd for fantasy world loaded with sex, violence and colorful language.

The company didn’t provide release dates for any of the new projects. The second season of The Witcher premieres December 17th.

This isn’t a completely unexpected move. Netflix clearly enjoyed success with the first season of The Witcher, and it’s apparently confident enough in the second to prompt a renewal months in advance. The expansion would capitalize on that fandom and make it accessible to a much wider audience. It’s just a question of whether or not viewers are willing to follow along, especially when iconic characters like Geralt and Yennefer might not be involved.

Netflix’s ‘League of Legends’ series debuts November 6th

Netflix’s long-in-the-making League of Legends show has a release date. The service has confirmed that its animated series Arcane will premiere November 6th at 10PM Eastern. Accordingly, a new trailer (below) sets the stage. It highlights the origins of sisters (and LoL heroines) Jinx and Vi as they fight both the dangers of hextech (magic harnessed by science) and the social inequalities between the rich city of Piltover and the undercity Zaun.

The series stars Into the Spider-Verse‘s Hailee Steinfeld as Vi and Army of the Dead‘s Ella Purnell as Jinx. Netflix and Riot are also banking on the show’s distinctive hand-painted style (which might be familiar to Riot fans) to stand out from other CG productions.

It’s not certain if Arcane will succeed, but Netflix has had some success with game-related shows like Castlevania — and that was for a franchise past its prime. A League of Legends series might thrive thanks to the MOBA title’s ongoing popularity… and, hopefully, its own merits.

Twitter promises better quality for new video uploads

Twitter says your new video uploads will appear less pixelated and have better quality. The official Twitter support account has revealed that the website made updates to fix its platform’s poor video quality, which has been a problem for its users since the beginning. Twitter told The Verge that it removed a pre-processing step when you upload videos that’s responsible for the issue. That step apparently splits the clip you’re trying to upload into smaller chunks for easier processing, and that could reduce video quality.

The company told the publication that the changes aren’t live on Twitter Media Studio, a tool that gives you access to all the media you’ve ever uploaded, yet. Also, while the improved video quality is expected to be available to everyone, it will only apply to new video uploads and won’t be retroactively applied to old ones. Here’s a sample of a new upload that’s supposed to have better quality:

While some people said they barely notice any difference from before, others noticed less compression in full screen and quicker adjustment when you switch screen sizes. The quality still isn’t comparable to HD videos posted on YouTube, but it does look decent enough. Back in 2019, Twitter also made changes to the way it uploads JPEGs to prevent lowering their quality upon being posted.

‘The Sandman’ teaser shows the capture of Morpheus

You no longer have to wonder just what Netflix’s adaptation of Sandman will look like. Netflix has shared a teaser for The Sandman that reveals the pivotal moment when an occult ritual captures Morpheus (aka Dream, played by Tom Sturridge) and sets the story in motion. As author Neil Gaiman put it, scenes like this will be more than a little reminiscent of the comic book series — good news if you were hoping for a faithful adaptation.

The series has a slew of well-known actors, including Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer, Stephen Fry as Gilbert, and Patton Oswalt as Matthew the Raven. You’ll also likely recognize actors like Narcos‘ Boyd Holbrook (playing The Corinthian) and The Good Place‘s Kirby Howell-Baptiste (as Death).

Netflix still won’t commit to a release date for The Sandman beyond “coming soon.” Still, it’s evident the company is giving the show a lavish treatment. It’s expecting a hit on par with Gaiman’s other adaptations (such as Amazon’s American Gods and Good Omens), and it’s delivering the production values to match.

Amazon says James Bond movies will still be released in theaters

You might not have to stay at home to watch James Bond movies if and when Amazon closes its purchase of MGM. As Deadlinereports, producer Barbara Broccoli revealed to Sky News that Amazon had committed to releasing Bond movies in theaters “in the future.” Broccoli wasn’t more specific than that, but it’s safe to say you won’t need a Prime Video subscription to watch 007’s post-Daniel Craig exploits.

MGM has gone out of its way to make sure the latest Bond flick, No Time to Die, premieres in theaters. The movie was slated to debut in April 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic prompted delays to November 2020, April 2021 and finally September 30th, 2021 for the UK. It reaches the US on October 8th. In all cases, MGM has steadfastly refused to make it available on streaming services like rival studios’ blockbuster releases — Amazon might face stiff resistance if it tries digital premieres.

The news follows a familiar pattern: Hollywood studios are determined to stick to theater-first launches for as long as possible. While there was clearly some success for WarnerMedia and other studios that released movies simultaneously or exclusively on streaming services at the height of the pandemic, they clearly want to return to the pre-COVID status quo.

‘Stranger Things’ season 4 teaser offers a peek at a haunted house

Netflix is finally offering more than a very brief glimpse of Stranger Things season 4. The streaming service used its TUDUM event to share a teaser that focuses on Creel House, a seemingly haunted abode. Decades after an ill-fated family moves into the house, the familiar Stranger Things teenage cast enters to investigate — and it won’t surprise you to hear that something is amiss.

The new season still doesn’t have a more specific release date than “2022.” Still, it’s clear Netflix is eager to drum up early hype. Not that this is really a shock. Stranger Things is a well-received series coming back over two years after its last entry, and Netflix undoubtedly wants to be sure it was worth the lengthy wait.

Apple says third-party apps must update to fully use iPhone 13 Pro’s 120Hz display

You might not have to worry about apps that can’t use the 120Hz refresh rate of the iPhone 13 Pro family. As iMorenotes, Apple has posted a developer article revealing that iPhone apps will need to ‘unlock’ 120Hz support by adding a key to a .plist file. There’s also a bug limiting the speed for some Core Animation-based apps, although Apple said a fix was coming in a future iOS 15 update.

The iPad Pro doesn’t require code updates to make full use of its 120Hz display, although that may be due to the tablet’s much larger battery. Smartphones are much more likely to take a serious battery life hit from high-refresh screens.

The details suggest a repeat of what happened when Apple introduced the iPhone 6, iPhone X and other phones with significant leaps in display tech — it took a while for Apple and developers to make full use of the new screens. Your iPhone 13 Pro’s 120Hz panel should reach its full potential, but there may be a few weeks or months where it goes underused.

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